something to listen to

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i just wanted to quickly back up on last week’s performance Give Me Something To Listen To.

it was an amazing experience.
sometimes i bit terrifying, right?

i didn’t actually know what would happen. i could have sat in an empty chair for three hours, trying to convince myself that ‘better luck next time’ is adequate consolation.

thankfully that wasn’t the case – there was a pretty steady stream of people who liked the idea and had things to bring me. some people knew me and brought things that were incredibly meaningful (or just mean – ahem). others heard about the work, liked the idea and brought things they thought i might like, or that they wanted me to like. others brought their favourite song or even their own work.

performance

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my ‘performance’ in this instance is quite subtle. another artist described it as ‘not performing performing’. but with an ever-changing audience, those that stayed and watched me listening noticed a few interesting things about the action of listening in this way.

as each person sat down and i handed over my headphone jack to them (the first person i plugged it into their ipod myself and it just felt a little bit violatory), it was almost ceremonial. as was the end, when they handed back my headphone jack.

each track was quite different and i tried to be as true as i could to whatever i was listening to.

i really listened and the world changed a little bit each time. sometimes my world became a movie, or a film clip. sometimes i was completely taken over by joy and movement – like when heidi gave me ‘i want you back’, by the jackson 5 – my favourite song of all time. or when gonzalo put jay-z and mc punjabi’s remix of blame the boys. we just rolled together.

accompaniment.

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each person sitting next to me had a different level of comfort. some were completely comfortable – especially those who almost listened along with me – they could see where i was up to in the track. others were quite uncomfortable, or bored. most started fidgeting at about the 1’30 mark. 3’30 is quite a long time when you’re just sitting there.

looking through the early documentation, it’s interesting to look at the shape of the space between me and the other ‘performer’.

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sometimes it really felt like i had a partner in crime. other times that other person became a character in a music narrative, depending on the song/track.

significance

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i asked everyone afterwards about the significance of the track they chose and we had some great discussions. after the hypnosis for pubic hair loss, we discussed the idea of gender as a psychological construct (and thus able to be changed through hypnosis).

sarah gave me a song that she knew was one of the first songs she ever gave me. sarah and her brother’s collection was incredibly influential on my love of music.

lynda’s choice of alvin lucier’s i am sitting in a room was an obvious one for her. we were able to discuss the significance of distortion, and of the next level of listening to that work in a room, different to the one i was in.

it was also amazing to see how relevant the tracks became. even by people who had never met me before and knew nothing about my practice. For instance, someone gave me Dreams by Fleetwood Mac and i had never heard the line ‘play the way you feel it, but listen to the sound..’ before. Wow.

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it was the first time i performed that work as a whole and i have to say that i’m pretty happy with how it worked.

thanks to those who came. and for those in other cities, or if you missed out in melbourne, i have a feeling this is just the beginning.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

dancing in the streets again.

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today i spent the afternoon pretty much back at the start of my masters research: in a silent gig in public, dancing to music with a bunch of people in headphones. public/private/public.

the first time i did it was at ars electronica 2007 and it kickstarted my investigation into sound in public, the role/symbol/place of headphones in public and the ensuing 2 years’ masters degree on all things related.

today was a silent parade for climate change, organised by 350 org and it was mad-fun.

what better a place to dance on the streets as part of political action but in berlin! berliners LOVE their electronic music and LOVE dancing (i should know, my club-induced sleeping patterns are getting ridiculous). it was awesome.

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the vibe itself was fantastic – i dipped in and out of different shared experiences with it, giving it a diversity of engagement that really floated my boat, and made for an even more enjoyable and thought-provoking afternoon.

of course, each of these points of together/alone with the parade had slightly different aspects of public/private/public politics:

through the media
i had to join the parade halfway through. so with twitter and their hashtag, i connected with the parade halfway through. connecting as an outsider to the crowd using social media + political engagement, easy – media studies 101.

full engagement
then, i joined the party. i danced my arse of for a while in a group of others all dancing and enjoying themselves with a cracking soundtrack and lots of clapping, w00ts and smiles. we were all in this together, for a common cause and enjoyment. and we were surrounded by a bunch of people who weren’t sharing, but engaged with curiosity – watching and wondering and maybe feeling a bit like outsiders. [more on the ‘outsider’ aspect of such a situation in a minute].

separated engagement
as the parade moved, i grabbed my bike, headphones still in range and rode on ahead, physically separate from the crowd, but still sonically and technologically engaged [wirelessly]. it was pretty special – i was riding in my own space, listening to music on my own, unable to see/hear others, but just knowing that they were there. i think this experience is exactly why the internet works.

and i had the fuckin’ coolest extra little public/private/public moment –  i’m riding away from the crowd, passed the polizei van escorting us and one of the officers has the headphones on (so he can keep track of what’s happening, i guess). and HE’S DANCING TOO!! i gave him a mega smile + bodacious wave and kept riding.
private citizen + public representative togetherness moment. swoon.

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separated, but with one other
another lone bike-rider with headphones caught up with me and together we were riding, dancing, w00ting and throwing our hands up in the air, having our own little private/public/private dance party. in fact, i think that confused people outside the ‘gig’ even more – just two crazy girls dressed in black, on bikes, wearing headphones, dancing like maniacs with each other. but it was another one of those moments of sharing an experience with another person, as part of a wider crew, that was just priceless.

observer
i decided to do a part of my listening to the city project as part of the parade, so once the crowd stopped at the park on spandauer straße, i turned the radio headphones off and became an observer. my observation was largely based on what i could hear (which is hilarious when you’re hearing what everyone else cannot), but it was still as an outside observer. there were lots of people also observing what was going on – some knowing a little bit about it, some not knowing and quiet alienated, others unknowing, but fascinated, or nonplussed. interesting levels of understanding and public engagement.

one thing i noticed is that having ‘outsiders’ is an important dynamic to an event like this. it generates curiosity, a point to engage, thought and ‘difference’. the alienation is not didactic, or perhaps even intended, but i did notice that because people couldn’t (or didn’t have to) engage, they stood around and watched, thought and perhaps envied the process. i know that the advertising peeps crave that juicy experience a lot, but as an artist and activist, it was the first time i understood how it could be used for good.

full engagement again.
and, right at the end, i put the headphones back on and danced with the crowd for another little while. the level of dancing reduced by the time we got to the park, some just opting to lay back in the glorious autumn sunshine and listen, but the sense of common and einheit was still very strong, without a harsh word, or forced action in earshot. brilliant.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

i could teach you a thing or two

ok, so here’s a guilty pleasure: this mason/luciana electro-pop track: yeah yeah. always reminds me of awesome times dancing at 3am.

what’s especially awesome about it is the clip – it’s all hot loved-up semi-erotic gettin’ it on. with headphones. taking the private moment into the ultra-private. where you’ve made your make-out session into a hot porn flick with soundtrack.

is this the aestheticisation of erotica through headphone usage now? fucking to the same song is ace, but it’s also interesting to imagine what it would be like if you were both listening to different music – could you have sex to the sound of discordant rhythms? anyways, interesting questions, in light of my thesis/research topic about sound in public and the use of headphones as the aestheticisation of public space.

and now here would be where i’d normally embed the video so you could see what i was talking about. but universal music have blocked embedding on that vid. i’ll never understand why the fuck they do that.

go see it on the you tubes here.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx